8 Lessons Learned From 8 Years As An Affiliate
Last Update: Apr 26, 2022
Just in case you didn't know, I'm the attractive Grandma in the cover photo lol :P Credit: Andrea via Pexels. Support him!
It's hard to believe it's been almost 8 years since I started HomeStudioBasics, all the way back in 2014.
I don't blog often here at WA unless I really have something to say, and I thought now would be as good a time as any considering, well, I have a lot on my mind!
Much of this stemmed from really getting serious this year about growth, forward progress, and discovering some truths about being an affiliate that, while not all that sexy, ARE extremely important.
So let's dive in and take a look at some things that I think will REALLY help you if you're just starting out. Heck, it may help you regardless of where you are on your journey!
After each lesson, I will share some really cool things that happened as a result.
Let's roll! And no, not on Ecstasy. :P
HUGS NOT DRUGS!
Watch your Tone & Stay on Topic!
This is something that will tie into another lesson but I think it's important enough to have its own space.
Lately, I've been going back to old posts and cringed at some of the stuff I said in years past.
Unless your blog is solely meant to entertain people, there's no reason to get cute and try too hard to be funny.
Make a joke or 2, keep it short and sweet, and keep it moving. GIFs are great for this and I've been using them a lot lately.
Remember, that person on the other end probably clicked on your article in search of information that will help them.
So give it to them.
Yes, let your personality and sense of humor shine through, but keep it lean and clean.
Staying on topic
I can't tell you how many times I'd start out an article talking about God knows what that wasn't even related to the post. Heck, I may have veered off course mid-article and cringed when I had to go back and cut out huge portions of the post.
Frankly, it's embarrassing now that I look back on it.
If you want to tell a story, fine, but try and relate it to the content, keep it short, and either do it at the end or make a clickable table of contents and clearly let people know they can use it to skip over your babble.
After going through old posts and updating almost every single one of them to reflect any product changes in 2022 and beyond (and also cutting out a whole heap of nonsensical bullsh**), I've noticed my Bounce Rate decreased by over 11%!
This is actually pretty huge for me because it's always hovered around 80%, and guess what happens when people stay on your page for longer?
More $$$, better engagement, longer session duration.
Wham bam, thank you, ma'am.
Break Up Your Content!
This is actually something I learned from Neil Patel in reading one of his blogs. Thanks, Peil Natel!
I used to write semi-long to very long paragraphs, and let me tell you, folks hate it.
I do too!
I used to think to myself, "Well, I'm interesting enough that people will read it."
This just in, you're not interesting lol.
Just break it up alright!
When you arrange your post in such a way that it can be skimmed and easily read, it will actually ensure people get to the end of the article and click the Call To Action.
My advice is 2 sentences or less, and most of the time only 1!
Well, I've noticed on mobile that 2 sentences sometimes read too long on my phone, but definitely cater to how long your actual sentences are.
Most of the time, 2 is a nice happy medium but sprinkle in 1 as well (if it's a longer sentence), and always include images where necessary.
In other words, try and insert an appropriate image right after you get done explaining or talking about something.
Talking about the front panel of an amplifier.
Show a picture of all the knobs and buttons that you took of said amplifier with your handy dandy camera.
Similar to the above, breaking up content helps people stay on the page for longer. I've noticed that my avg. time on page in Google Analytics has bumped up to almost 4 minutes (3:52)!
For clarification, this # has always been in the low 3s (around 3:03 - 3:23).
Be Smart About Your Chosen Keywords!
This is something I'm actually still recovering from after Google's "Stay In Your Lane" update from around September of 2018.
A lot of my old content targeted keywords that aren't really being searched anymore.
If you're going for low-hanging fruit, by all means, do so. I still write articles that are easier to rank for today.
Just be aware of what it is you're writing about and make sure it's something that will likely still be popular years down the road.
For example, in my niche, there are certain headphones that new people will almost always be searching for: The Sennheiser HD600/650, AKG K701/K702, etc.
They are the bread and butter of your ranking strategy.
This requires a bit more diligent research on your part, so know your niche! If I knew mine a bit better back then, I would have saved myself a lot of headaches and wouldn't have lost so much valuable traffic.
This is especially true for A/B comparisons, and I'm a lot more cautious about which ones I spend my time writing about now.
For the most part, traffic #s for single reviews will stay the same, increase, or only decrease slightly. Product comparisons are much different and should be treated accordingly.
Well, nothing really, other than I'm much more cautious regarding the things I write about.
You should always be aiming to help people, not necessarily make money.
I'm guilty of spamming articles in the past in hopes of making more commissions. Sure, it works in the moment, but you'll be paying for it later (no pun intended).
Better, more in-depth articles always equals more trust from your readers and higher rankings in the SERPs.
Allocate Your Time Well & Outsource If Possible
This is something I'm still working on.
You only have so much time in a day, so use it wisely.
Buy a notebook, make a schedule, jot down your thoughts on paper so you don't forget, etc.
Nowadays Google Sheets has helped me immensely in staying on track, but I still keep a notebook at my desk for everything else.
I'd love to have 10 people automating my site, but I'm not quite there yet.
The point is to spend time on the things that are most likely to propel your business forward.
I hired a writer a couple of years ago and people reach out for guest posts and podcasts as well. The longer you're in the game and are trustworthy, the more likely folks will want to collaborate with you.
I've found sharing on Facebook has helped immensely with traction as many of my newer posts (and older ones too!) have shares in the hundreds. Still haven't gotten any of them to a 1,000, but that comes next ;)
My advice is to whittle down the social networks you know you'll use.
For me, it's Instagram to answer questions (as people love messaging me there), Facebook for shares, and Mailchimp to send out emails. Anything more than that and I get overwhelmed.
LINK TO OTHER PEOPLE!
It may seem counterintuitive and I still struggle with it, but linking to other reputable blogs is a sure-fire way to boost your own rankings.
Internal linking is also great and you should always do it, but external linking in my experience is probably more lucrative in the long run.
You may think, "Well if I link to someone else, that person will just click his blog instead of reading mine."
Well to that I say,
DON'T BE SO SELFISH!
You might be right, but probably not seeing as how I make an effort to link to good websites whenever I deem it appropriate and it really helps out my visibility in the SERPs.
Don't go crazy with this thinking it's going to get you #1 for every post, but definitely use it when applicable.
For instance, you're writing a review and need some information or are curious about what another reviewer thinks.
If their opinion lines up with yours, or if they touched on something you missed, by all means, quote them. Heck, try and give an alternative viewpoint even if you all don't happen to agree!
This helps boost your own authority with said topic and also helps the other person out!
And what could be better than serving up smiles? 🙂
I've noticed that in articles where I've quoted and linked to someone, my ranking not only gets a boost but most of the time stays high up on page 1 and doesn't move.
Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket!
Or more specifically, the Amazon basket.
This is one of the most important things in the affiliate business and I can't stress it enough.
Yes, Amazon is great and people shop there for everything. In fact, it's one of the best tools for making money as an affiliate.
But you can't solely rely on it for everything unless you're one of the lucky ones who makes bank.
Because commission structures change, buying habits change, and people change.
I almost went broke and quit simply because my only source of income (Amazon) saw some really lean times.
My advice is to always be searching for new revenue opportunities, whether that be through ad networks, other affiliate programs, etc.
Right now I have around 12-14 sources of income.
If one thing dries up for a bit, typically something else will take its place.
The goal is to increase traffic and have everything working at once to make lots of money, but sometimes it doesn't always work out that way and you have to be patient.
The important thing is to at least have money always rolling in so that you can weather the inevitable storms that come your way.
For instance, I recently just picked up the really fun hobby of fixing Playstations/Gameboys and selling them on eBay!
There's truly a market for pretty much anything you can think of, so get creative.
I didn't starve! Hooray! xD
Update, Update, Update
If your blog is stuck in the doldrums, here's what to do:
Go to google sheets and map out every article you've ever written.
Make columns for Page Rank, Former Position, Revision Date, Ranking Improve? (Yes/No), Current position, Volume, QSR, and Action/Status.
Action/Status just means what do I need to do for this article? Update it, check the ranking, etc.
This is amazing for boosting your confidence and keeping you accountable. It also helps you stay motivated when EVERYTHING is right there are your fingertips, organized and pretty looking. Google sheets is really powerful!
Out of hundreds of articles I've written, 99.9% of them WILL improve in rank over time when you,
- Update the article and make it better (using some of the tactics discussed earlier)
- Change the date inside WordPress to whatever day you revised it.
- Be patient. Generally speaking, you can expect a boost in just a few days, but I typically wait 6-7 days. Some articles take longer so chill out! :)
The best part?
Updating articles and making them relevant to the current year also helps rank ones you don't even touch!
That's right, I've seen articles I haven't even edited jump up in rank to the first page, even after being UNRANKED or say, on Page 7-8+.
So you can imagine how well this works for stuff lower on Page 1 and articles on page 2!
It's important to note that you should do this regardless of whether or not your blog is stuck as updating articles always helps readers make better buying decisions based on the times.
For me personally, this has boosted my traffic by over 15,000 monthly page views.
Now, this will never be set in stone as traffic numbers are always going to fluctuate.
That's something you need to just accept and be okay with (something I'm still working on). Obviously, the goal is always UP though.
But, frequent updates WILL improve rankings across the board and this is a tactic you should always be utilizing.
And this brings me to my final point:
Content Is King!
There's no getting around it.
Google. LOVES. Content.
I mean they really love it.
Even if it's old/bad and/or thin!
That's right you heard me correctly.
Utilizing the strategy from lesson 2, I saw a crappy 900-word review I wrote in 2017 jump to 3rd position (from page 2 or 3) after not even touching it.
Now, you should always be improving articles (for reasons mentioned earlier), but this is such a powerful concept that cannot be ignored.
Guess what CAN be ignored though?
99% of the crap you read from so-called Gurus.
Because nothing is as important as pumping out articles. Nothing. It truly is the lifeblood of your business.
At the end of the day, affiliate marketing is always going to be about content and that's something that will never change.
As for how to write content faster?
This one I learned from Jay here at WA. Thanks, Jay!
Day 1. Write a draft as fast as you can, ignoring everything (spelling errors, on-page SEO, linking, tables, images, etc.), and just focus on the content and what you have to say. Repeat until your fingers bleed.
Day 2. Do all the extra stuff and make it pretty (this is the fun part for me).
Well, all of the things happen when you write write write.
Have fun with it as well!
I probably should have made this a lesson, but whatever.
I wrote too much and don't feel like messing with the order. xD
CHOOSE A NICHE YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT!!
This will help with the inevitable burnouts and keeps you moving forward.
Unless your goal is to flip a site (sell it), you should always choose something that interests you.
I think that's enough talk. It's time for the final exercise.
Raiden, TAKE SOLIDUS DOWN.
Wait we're not playing Metal Gear Solid. xD
Haha, I truly hope you enjoyed this and sincerely hope it helps you on your journey to making ONE MIRRION dollars.
Alright, I'm out. xD
Comment below and let me know what's worked for you!
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